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What may be behind unexplained weight loss

What may be behind unexplained weight loss Quickly shedding several pounds… some dream of it. But when this weight loss is completely involuntary, without diet or deprivation, it is better to consult your doctor without delay.

Weight balance is a criterion of good health. Any rapid weight gain or loss should therefore be a warning, especially if you have not changed your eating habits. This sudden variation can indeed be the harbinger of a malfunction in the body or of a disease. But since thinness is extolled in our society, complaining about melting like snow in the sun is almost taboo.

The medical profession considers that weight loss is pathological when you lose 5% of your weight in less than 6 months or 10% of your weight in less than a year , or 5.5 kilos for a woman of 55 kilos for example.

Psychological-causes in almost half-of-cases

“Depression often results in a disturbance of appetite,” notes Dr. William de Carvalho, a psychiatrist in Paris. While some people with depression take refuge in food, others lose the pleasure of eating. Food seems tasteless to them and the very idea of ​​having to eat becomes an insurmountable chore. Hence a sudden weight loss which increases the feeling of immense fatigue characteristic of depression.

Excessive stress also curbs appetite and alters fat storage. This is why some women lose weight enormously after childbirth, between the crying of the baby, the disturbance of the family balance, the lack of sleep and the return to work to manage. Result:they find themselves thinner than before pregnancy, while the majority of women retain 0.4 to 3 extra pounds up to 12 months after birth.

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Malnutrition caused by anorexia nervosa or repeated bouts of bulimia, followed by systematic vomiting, is also the source of many rapid weight losses.

The manifestation of a digestive or infectious disease

Celiac disease, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis frequently cause weight loss because transit is accelerated (diarrhea) and nutrients are poorly absorbed in the intestine. In children, growth and puberty delays are even observed. A gastric ulcer also induces a meltdown on the scale due to the pain and loss of appetite it causes.

Unexplained weight loss can also indicate a viral or bacterial infection (hepatitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV, etc.). It also sometimes results from the presence of an intestinal parasite brought back from a trip abroad, such as tapeworm, which causes the weight to drop despite the serious increase in appetite.

Possible hormonal dysfunction

Insulin-dependent diabetes is often manifested by weight loss and severe dehydration, which leads to heavy drinking and increased urine volume. A disorder of the thyroid gland also has repercussions on weight. If it works in slow motion (hypothyroidism), "we tend to gain a little weight despite a moderate appetite", points out Dr. Pierre Nys, endocrinologist author of The Thyroid IG Diet (ed. Leduc.s).

Conversely, when it gets carried away (hyperthyroidism), the overflow of hormones triggers excessive metabolic reactions:the heart panics, the sweat glands produce too much sweat, transit speeds up, etc. As a result, "we lose weight even though we eat more than usual", explains Dr. Nys.

A cancer-indicator

Sudden weight loss is one of the first symptoms suggestive of cancer. In fact, 4 out of 10 people diagnosed report a noticeable weight loss in the previous months. A British study, from the University of Oxford, also proved in April 2018 this frequent link. By compiling the medical data of 11.5 million patients, the researchers established that weight loss was associated with the occurrence of ten types of cancer:lung, kidney, pancreas, stomach, colon, gallbladder, ovaries, prostate, as well as myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Better not to take the situation lightly. In the event of significant unplanned weight loss, make an appointment as soon as possible with your doctor so that he can objectively assess your weight loss, determine the cause and refer you to the most appropriate specialist.

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